Sandborn Canal

We delay our exit from Portage Bay for several hours to let the thick fog lift. Traveling up Stephens Passage,  we make a turn into the extensive bay of Port Houghton. Today we  are heading to Sandborn Canal.  We made a brief visit here earlier this year but the bugs were so bad we left without getting a […]

Gear We Like: Wireless Keyboard with Trackball

In the past twenty years, we’ve run a combined 16,400 engine hours and traveled over 120,000 miles on the two boats we’ve owned. On our first boat we spent a decade extensively exploring the Pacific Northwest and researching the material for our guide, Cruising the Secret Coast: Anchorages on British Columbia’s Inside Passage. In our…

Changing Plans, Again

Our plans are always fairly fluid, but the past couple of years have seen even more changes than normal. In 2020, we made three major itinerary adjustments: skipping the Mediterranean and instead heading to Scotland; crossing the North Sea to Norway while en-route to cruising the Scottish Orkney and Shetland island groups; and choosing to…


As I write this we’ve been in Level 4lock down for nearly five weeks now and hopefully we’ll be going down to Level 3 next week and 2 the week after. So let’s hang on in there.                              

From a boating perspective we haven’t missed out on too much as until the last few days the weather has mostly been miserably wet, windyand chilly. Roll on Level 2, warmer weather and the resumption of boating – we can’t wait!

Here’s an edited version of an article to appear shortly in Pacific PowerBoat re cruising around the Ponui Island area.

In Auckland we’re spoiled for choice of great cruising destinations with about 1,200square miles of the mightyHauraki Gulf and dozens of islands on our doorstep, explainingwhy Auckland is said to have the largest number of boats per capita in the world.                                                                              

One of ourfavourite inner Gulf islands is Ponui. Maori were the island’s first inhabitants during the 1400s and evidence still remains of 23 separate pa sites. The island was purchased in 1853 by the Chamberlin family, who remained through the generations and still farm the island to this day. Ponui translatesas “long night” and judging from the number of cruisers who frequent this area we’resure there’s been many anenjoyableand long nightspent here.

Ponui is about four miles long in a north to south direction, one to two miles wide and indented with numerous bays and coves offering at least 20 good anchorages, wellspread around the island allowing cruisers tofind safe shelter in all wind conditions. The highly informativeRoyal Akarana Yacht Club Coastal Cruising Handbook (a must have on board for cruisers) provides excellentinformation on most of these anchorages, so we’ll focus on just threeof our favourite areas.

By far Ponui’s most popular anchorage is Chamberlains Bay (also called North Harbour) bordering the northern coast’s Ruthe Passage separatingPonui andRotoroa Islands. This large bay offers great shelter in westerlies through to southerlies and for light north-westerlies and south-easterlies, although in stronger south-easterlies an uncomfortablefetch comes into the bay from the Firth of Thames. You’ll notice that Coastguard have a mooring for their rescue vessels in the bay’s north-west corner.ChamberlainsBay (note spelling of this bay is different to that of the Chamberlin family name) has no particular hazards except for itsmuddy bottom gradually shoalingtowards the southern shoreline. Immediately to the east are two great sandy beaches easily reached by dinghy. If anchoring off these beacheswatch out for the rocky outcrop between the two beaches and monitor your depth. Part of Chamberlains Bay’s appeal is that if the wind shifts to the north or east boats can easily moveless than a mile across to Rotoroa’s South-West Bay to shelter. Thisbay also has three moorings available to rent by prior arrangement at $25 per night. The Salvation Army ran an alcohol addiction treatment centre here from 1911 until 2005 and during that time no landing was allowed. It’s reputed that sometimes desperate alcoholics swam out to boats moored here trying to score a drink. Nowadays visitors are encouraged, but no dogs are allowed as Rotoroa is a wildlife sanctuary with kiwi and weka abounding. It’s well worth visiting their interesting Exhibition Centre and your kids will certainly love the nearby brick jail house. You’ll have to avoid the temptation to leave them there! Takea walk over the island for spectacular views of the Firth of Thames and visit Men’s Bay and Ladies’ Bay on Rotoroa’s east coast – great anchorages in settled westerly conditions. Formerly cruisers could only gazeat these near-perfect beaches from afar, but can now enjoy their white sand, crystal clear waters and gnarly shade-providing pohutukawa trees.

Shark Bay on the island’s western side bordering the Waiheke Channel isn’t mentioned on the NZ 5324Chart for this area, but it’s the bay to the north ofOranga and Poroaki Bays. Oranga Bay is too shallow for anchoring, but take your dinghy in to see the shipwreck on the shoreline with its impressivepropeller and the nearby remains of two boilers. You’ll also see plenty of rays gliding across the seabed searching for kai

Shipwreck in Oranga Bay on a great early July day

Close up showing the wreck’s huge propeller

Poroaki Bay can be recognised byits several homesteadsand protruding western headland providingprotection from the prevailing south-westerly wind. Very often there’s also a large powered barge moored close to shore. Between Shark Bay and Ponui Head to the north are two unnamed bays with excellent sandy beaches and shelter from southerly through to north-easterlywinds, but be aware of an unmarked rock south west of Ponui Head (marked on chart). The only negative for this area iswakes produced by large motor vessels travelling at speed through the Waiheke Channel.

Stunning unnamed bay south of Ponui Head

Barge at Poroaki Bay

Bryants Bay on Ponui’s north-east coast is a settled weather anchorage suitable for northerly through to south-westerly winds. It’s well protected by Scully Reef and consistsof three small bays, two of which are really stunning, together with a large anchoring area outside these bays. This is an area where we’re often happy to anchor for several days and holding is good, but be aware of close to shore rocks. About half a mile south is another well sheltered bay with a finesandy beach.

Fishing is generally good around Ponui, particularly on the eastern side in the Firth of Thames and we’re always able to feed ourselves,however on the north-western side be aware of the Te Matuki Marine Reserve extending across to Awaawaroa Bay on Waiheke Island’s south coast.

There are large signs on PonuiIsland’s foreshores advising the island is private property and that no dogs, fires or camping are allowed. I spoke to one of the island’s three farm owners who advisedboaties mayland on beaches provided they observe the above limitations.Ponui is home to nearly2,000 brown kiwi, descendants of just 13 released in 1964 anddogs and ferrets are theirmain predators so there’s good reason to ban dogs. While most dog owners are responsible a minorityapparently think leashed dogs are not a problem and that rules don’t apply to them. However even leashed dogscanupset farm animals andwildlife whiletheir scent is an issue in bird breeding areas sometimes causing birds to abandon their nests.

There is no fuel, water or supplies available in this area, except for wine at the very pleasant Man O’War Vineyard. On a fine summer’s day you’ll find dozens of inflatables ashore hereenjoying the sandy beach and the selection of winery beverages and snacks. Closest groceries are at Rocky Bay while for fuel and water you’ll have to make the eleven mile trip to Pine Harbour marina.

We really enjoy anchoring in these areas around Ponui and hope you will too, but remember if going ashore to act responsibly by taking no dogs, lighting no fires and taking your rubbish away with you.

Next Post will be about cruising at low rpm without compromising your engines’ performance and longevity.

Sept. 13-16 – Mid September Updates

“I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall.”  -Mike May

September in the Finger Lakes…it doesn’t get much better. Peaceful beautiful sunny days to enjoy the amazing countryside we call home. On Monday we picked a winery we haven’t visited before on Seneca Lake…wow have we missed out. The Leidenfrost Vineyard was a great place to spend the afternoon enjoying each other, a picnic, a bottle of wine and a great view of the lake. 


Too Big to Keep

Change in plans….during one of our engine room checks, Jeff discovers a leak on our generator circulation pump. It’s nothing serious but   Piston and Rudder, the local marine dealer in Petersburg,  has a pump in stock so that is our new destination. Mike, the owner, is gracious enough to work us in to his busy schedule to […]

Seattle Arrival

We arrived into Seattle, Washington from Bend, Oregon exactly four weeks after we departed Charleston on our cross-country drive. The 328-mile (538 km) drive from Bend brought our total driving distance to 5,157 miles (8,299 km) across 14 states (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon and…

Road Trip to Seattle: Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, with river-rafting, hiking, world-class climbing, and hundreds of miles of mountain-biking trails. And that’s just in the summer. Bend also is close to some of the best skiing in Oregon at the Mt Bachelor ski resort. The town also is home to more than 22 breweries, and…

Krogen Rendezvous Part two: Bear Mama Drama

Our adventure begins shortly after launching the dinghies and  leaving the protected anchorage of Windfall Harbor for our three mile trip to the Pack Creek Bear Preserve. It’s flat calm in our anchorage but as we continue north, the seas and wind build dramatically. We spot several brown bears along the shoreline but dare not stop […]

Road Trip to Seattle: Oregon Coast

The beautiful and diverse Oregon coast has long been a special place for us. As a child, James lived in Eugene, Oregon and made many family trips to the coast. And many years later, it was where we took our took our first vacation together back in 1983. From Crescent City, CA we traveled north…